|19 June 2012|
|Sparta&K have no way of knowing what colour Isabelle Yacoubou's hair will be when she shows up in Vidnoje, but they're certain they've added a valuable frontline player|
Isabelle Yacoubou was among the dominating players in the Ros Casares frontcourt this season that helped the Spanish club capture the EuroLeague Women title.
Now Yacoubou has decided to take her talent to Russia to play for one of Europe's most successful teams in recent times, Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje.
The club has confirmed the France international's arrival.
"Everything happened so fast but the truth is that I'm very happy and excited at being part of this new project with a great coach and great teammates," Yacoubou said.
"I'll try to bring my skills and experience in the paint but also learn and keep improving.
"I hope Sparta&K is as excited about my arrival as much as I am coming.
"I am positive this is going to be a good experience."
Sparta&K had attempted to sign Yacoubou before but weren't successful.
Now coach Pokey Chatman has another strong inside presence to combat not only Russia rivals UMMC Ekaterinburg but also the rest of the teams in the EuroLeague Women.
She coached against her at the Final Eight in Istanbul, a game won by Ros.
"I could not think of a better way to finalize our roster," said general manager Steve Costalas.
"Firstly we signed Isabelle Yacoubou, who I personally have been following since her rookie year in Tarbes.
"During the last two years and even till a few months ago, we tried signing her but for various reasons it did not happen.
"Just when we had given up, a few days ago we made a last minute effort and finally were able to sign her to a multi-year deal."
RUZANOVA BACK TO SPARTA&K
Sparta&K have also brought in Russian point guard Katya Ruzanova, a player who had been on the books before.
|Point guard Ekaterina Ruzanova returns to Sparta&K after playing last season for Russian rivals Nadezhda|
The 29-year-old playmaker competed for Nadezhda Orenburg this season in the EuroLeague Women and averaged four points and 0.9 assists in 17.2 minutes per game.
"I'm very glad to be back to Sparta&K," she said, "because it's not only a professional club with many titles as well as high goals and aims, but also one big basketball family."
Chatman was asked about the club's latest signings and said: "It's always great to be able at this time of the signing season to add to your roster players the caliber of Isabelle Yavoubou and Katya Ruzanova.
"While she is still young, Isabelle is one of the top European centers and without doubt is going to help us in aspects which last year was considered our main weakness.
"At the same time adding one of the best pure Russian point guards (Ruzanova), especially since we know her from her being here just a year ago, is great."
Sparta&K also have Slovenia international Nika Baric and Spanish veteran Elisa Aguilar, both point guards, under contract.
The club recently announced it had signed Emma Meesseman on a four-year contract that allows the Belgium international to spend the first two years at home continuing her university education.
During that time, Meesseman will play for Villeurbanne.
Yacoubou, 26, helped France capture a EuroBasket Women title in 2009 and will very shortly be playing at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women in Ankara.
A 1.90m center, Yacoubou averaged 9.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for Ros in the EuroLeague Women last season.
Sparta&K's general director, Anna Arkhipova, said in a statement: "It is great to finalize our player signings for the upcoming season with such quality and valuable players.
"On the one hand, we signed Isabelle Yacoubou who without doubt is one of the better young European centers and is a proven winner.
"On the other hand, we were able to bring back to our team and family Katya Ruzanova who surely will solidify our back court."